A co-production of C35 Films, the Center for Asian American Media, and WORLD Channel, America ReFramed’s FIRST VOTE offers unparalleled access to a diverse cross-section of politically engaged Chinese Americans. The film weaves their stories from the presidential election of 2016 to the 2018 midterms and explores the intersections between immigration, voting rights, and racial justice. Directed by Yi Chen, a Chinese immigrant and first-time voter herself, FIRST VOTE is a rare long-form look at the diverse Asian American electorate. Her thought-provoking journey into the Rust Belt and South captures four Chinese American voters’ ardent first time grassroots political participation ignited by the 2016 rise of “Chinese Americans for Trump.” Until 1952, federal law prohibited immigrants of Asian descent from becoming U.S. citizens and voting. Today, Asian Americans are the fastest growing population in the United States. The film is a timely story exploring what it means to be American through personal stories of America’s fastest growing political constituency’s diverse experience at the polls in battleground states.
The world premiere television broadcast date for FIRST VOTE is October 20, 2020 on the PBS World Channel at 8PM ET (CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS), as part of the channel’s AMERICA REFRAMED series. The film will be repeated throughout the month leading to the November 3 presidential election and will be streaming now on PBS.ORG.
FIRST VOTE is also the anchor film for the PBS World Channel’s Your Vote 2020 (#YourVote2020) initiative – a multi platform initiative exploring racial diversity of voters in this 2020 election. This innovative program kicked off on September 28, 2020 with a virtual live screening for the film FIRST VOTE, hosted by WORLD Channel in partnership with several Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) film festivals. The screening was followed by a discussion of the film with filmmaker Yi Chen and film subjects Kaiser Kuo, host of Sinica Podcast, and Jennifer Ho, director of the Center for Humanities & the Arts at the University of Colorado Boulder. The discussion was moderated by award-winning journalist and NBC/MSNBC news anchor Richard Lui. Additionally, a panel discussion on voter participation featured Christine Chen, APIA Vote Executive Director, Janelle S. Wong, Professor of Asian American Studies, University of Maryland, Jerry Vattamala, Democracy Program Director, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Chavi Koneru, Executive Director, North Carolina Asian Americans Together, and Elaine Tso, CEO, Asian Services in Action, Inc. The event and more about FIRST VOTE can be found here.
Additional events will take place in the weeks leading up to Election Day in partnership with Latino Public Broadcasting, Pacific Islanders in Communication and Black Public Media. More details will be announced as they become available here.
For a complete list of original WORLD Channel programming, visit www.WORLDChannel.org or follow WORLD Channel on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #YourVote2020 and subscribe to the YouTube channel.
About FIRST VOTE
A soon-to-be first-time voter, the filmmaker’s thought-provoking journey into the Rust Belt and South captures four Asian American voters’ ardent first time grassroots political participation ignited by the 2016 rise of “Chinese Americans for Trump.”
FIRST VOTE is a character driven cinema verité style film chronicling the democratic participation of four Asian American voters from 2016 through the 2018 midterm elections. In Montgomery County, Ohio, a first-time voter Lance Chen avidly mobilizes new Americans to vote republican through his Rush-Limbaugh-style podcast and political action committee. In Orange County, North Carolina, journalist Kaiser Kuo returns to the U.S. after living in Beijing for 20 years and is unexpectedly confronted with the rise of Chinese American conservativism in the South, personified by a rags-to-riches business woman, Sue Googe, who after an unsuccessful first run for Congress, becomes a “tough Chinese cookie” for the Tea Party. At the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, critical race theory professor Jennifer Ho takes her activism to the classroom teaching about the complexities of race and racism in the American South.
Until 1952, federal law prohibited immigrants of Asian descent from becoming U.S. citizens and voting. Today, Asian Americans are the fastest growing population in the United States. FIRST VOTE is a timely story exploring what it means to be American through personal stories of America’s fastest growing political constituency’s diverse experience at the polls in battleground states.
About WORLD Channel
WORLD shares the best of public media in news, documentaries and fact-based informational programming that helps us understand conflicts, movements and cultures that may be distinct from our own. WORLD’s original content examines issues too often ignored by mainstream media by sharing stories from a diversity of voices. WORLD has won a Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award, a National News and Documentary Emmy Award and other national honors — including 1st and 2nd place Native Media Awards, an RTNDA Kaleidoscope Award, a Media for a Just Society Award, two Lesbian & Gay Journalist Awards, two Gracies and an Asian American Journalists Award. WORLD is a growing platform carried by 174 partner stations in markets representing more than 72% of US TV households. It is also available on WORLDChannel.org and social media platforms. Funding for WORLD Channel is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the MacArthur Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts and Artworks. WORLD Channel is curated by GBH in partnership with WNET and is distributed by American Public Television (APT).
About Director Yi Chen
Yi is a 2019 Soros Equality Fellow and 2020 DC Arts and Humanities Fellow. She is currently in post-production with FIRST VOTE, a feature length documentary supported by the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Center for Asian American Media, ITVS, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and Southern Documentary Fund. Her last film CHINATOWN, about three long-time residents’ activism for affordable housing in Washington, DC’s historic Chinatown neighborhood, aired on PBS station WHUT and won the IndieCapitol Awards Best Documentary Short. Yi previously worked at the UN Foundation, National Geographic, and Voice of America. She has also produced documentaries for Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum, Investigative Reporting Workshop, WAMU 88.5, and Financial Times. Yi holds an MFA in Film and Media Arts from American University and has served as an adjunct professor at George Mason University.